The Worst Foods to Eat If You Want Strong Teeth

Jun 06, 2023
The Worst Foods to Eat If You Want Strong Teeth
Candy and other foods loaded with sugar can be healthy teeth’s worst enemies. But did you know there are other foods you should avoid if you want strong, healthy teeth? Read on.

From the time you were a child, chances are your parents or grandparents warned you about how eating too much candy was bad for your teeth. While sugary drinks and foods are leading factors in tooth decay, there are plenty of other foods that can have damaging effects on your teeth.

In this blog, our own Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, provides her insights on the worst foods to eat if you want strong teeth.

Enemies of enamel

When it comes to strong, healthy teeth, we’re really talking about protecting the outer layer of your teeth, your dental enamel, from becoming weak, damaged, or, worse yet, vulnerable enough to be breached.

Enamel doesn’t contain any living cells but is mostly made up of a mineral called hydroxyapatite, the strongest substance produced in the human body. This characteristic strength allows your enamel to act as a protective shield for the inside layers of your teeth — dentin and dental pulp.

 Even though enamel is remarkably strong, certain foods and drinks can pose a threat to the integrity of its tough outer shield. What’s even more important is that since enamel isn’t alive like cells or tissues, it can’t heal or repair itself, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. 

Sugars and sugary drinks

The no-brainer top enemies of enamel are candy, sugar-laden foods, and sugary drinks. While it seems obvious that sugar can lead to dental decay or cavities, do you really know why? It’s all about science or, more specifically, chemical reactions. Think bacteria, sugar, acid, and something called the pH factor.

Both good and bad bacteria take up residence in your mouth all the time. Sugar is naturally drawn to bad bacteria. Add a little saliva to the mix and you get dental plaque, that sticky, clear film that forms on the surface of your teeth.

 While this is all happening, the pH factor — the amount of acid in your mouth — can change. If the pH of plaque drops below normal, it can dissolve enamel. This chemical process is known as tooth demineralization. Tooth demineralization triggers tooth decay. Over time, small holes form, and, if left untreated, eventually grow larger, until becoming a full-fledged cavity. 

Sticky and starchy foods that linger

Candy and sweets are obvious sources of sugar, but dietary sugars (sometimes called free sugars) are found in high-carb, starchy snack foods like potato chips or even soft breads. 

In addition to containing sugars that attract bad bacteria, these types of foods may provide a perfect storm for dental decay since residual food debris tends to get caught between your teeth. 

Citrus and acidic foods
Not surprisingly, since the pH level of your mouth plays a role in the damaging effects on your dental enamel, foods and drinks that are naturally acidic can be harmful. Be cautious about eating lots of citrus fruits or beverages like oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. 

Try eating citrus fruits while drinking water or eat cheese afterward. Cheese does two things to help — it raises the pH levels in your mouth and boosts saliva production

 Similarly, be mindful of foods like tomatoes, tomato sauces, and other tomato products or juices, as well as jellies and jams and foods with vinegar. 

Brush and floss to promote healthy, strong teeth

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a decadent, sweet dessert or a piece of candy from time to time, but make sure you counteract the chemical reaction taking place in your mouth by brushing and flossing daily. When you want to treat yourself, enjoy in moderation and avoid lots of snacking between meals.

 While a strong at-home oral care routine helps keep your teeth and gums healthy, don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

If you’re ready to begin your journey to healthy teeth and a beautiful, confident smile,
contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule an orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.